Merry Christmas! I found this Christmas Blessing while blogging this year and really loved the sentiments it contained. May you know the blessings of Peace that Jesus brings, John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” May you see your Hope in Him, 1 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” May you feel the Sprit of His Love, 1 John 3:23 “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.” May you have the Comfort of Faith in Jesus,2 Corinthians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”
All of these gifts complete the circle of our Advent Wreath as we light the Christ candle on Christmas Eve or morning proclaiming His birth. May you find His Love, Comfort, Hope and Peace in Jesus. May you rejoice in the arrival of Jesus and claim the JOY God has for you.
The appearance of Gabriel and the heavenly host spurred the shepherds into action. They were curious to see this child of peace that would bring the favor of God upon all who believed in Him. Our story continues in Luke 2:15-20 “When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”
Their encounter with the Christ child led them to tell others what the angel had said, “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12 They also told others what they had seen, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Their experience of seeing the majesty of God in His heavenly beings and the manifestation of His glory in the baby Jesus would have been life changing. It is no wonder at all that they left the stable and went back to work praising and glorifying God.
What do you do with your encounters with God? Do you discount them in unbelief or do you relish them in faith and turn them into praise? God desires that we seek Him like the shepherds did that evening in Bethlehem. Scripture tells us seeking God will bring results. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” David wrote in Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,” Solomon wrote in Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”Jesus said in John 4:23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” An unknown author wrote in Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Throughout scripture we are encouraged to seek God wholeheartedly.
Are you a seeker? Do you love to spend time in prayer and studying the Word of God? Do you love fellowship with other believers? Do you pursue God with your whole heart? I pray that this Advent you will be open to the Savior and come seeking Him with a newness of heart. He is waiting to bless you, draw you closer to Him and reward you with peace and hope. Paul put it this way in Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. May you receive His blessings of peace and hope today!
The third Sunday of Advent we light the candle of peace in our wreath. The story of the angelic beings appearing to the shepherds proclaims the birth of the Christ child and peace to the world. The angel of the Lord, identified as Gabriel in Luke 1:11, announced the Savior’s coming birth to Mary, Joseph and Zechariah. Now he comes with a host of angelic beings, shining gloriously before a group of shepherds and speaks words of hope and peace about the Savior who has just arrived. Luke 2:8-14 “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
How has God interrupted your life this year? Are you hearing a message of peace and hope? Do you feel His presence when you are afraid? The shepherds were going about their daily lives and then God intervened. I like to call this A GOD moment. In the midst of their ordinary day’s activities, God showed Himself real and powerfully in their midst. The shepherds were given directions to go and seek out this child. They were told where they would find Him, lying in a manger, and what He would look like, a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. The angel wanted there to be no mistake so they would know for sure they had found the Christ child, the Savior. Their response was obedience as they quickly went to find the child.
What is your response to the God moments in your life? Do you take advantage of them and pack them away for future encouragement? Do you share them with others to encourage their faith? As you ponder the shepherds and this revelation to them from God, recall your own God moments. Let the memories remind you of the joy and hope you have in Jesus and of His tender loving care. Let the shepherd’s encounter and your memories lead you to worship. God is worthy of all our praise!
The Bible is full of scriptures about peace. God wants us to know His peace, live in peace and experience peace on a daily basis. Today’s verses come from Isaiah 26:3-4. As you read and meditate on the words from Isaiah, may they lead you towards greater thankfulness as you consider His peace.
3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 4 Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
Prayer: Lord, I desire your peace in my life. May my trust in you grow daily so that my mind is steadfastly focused on you. I know you can and will keep me in a state of peace that will cover my mind, body and soul as I trust in you more and more. Lord, you are my rock and refuge. You are eternal and will keep me as your own for eternity. I know Lord that you love me and are a promise keeper. Bring your peace into my life today as I focus upon you and walk trusting in you. Thank you Lord Jesus. Amen.
Have a blessed day filled with His peace and a thankful heart.
Today’s focus for thankfulness comes from Psalm 46:1-3. In my book, Promises for Dynamic Living, I used these verses on the printed bookmark that accompanied the book. These verses never cease to bring thankfulness, awe and extreme encouragement to my soul.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Why am I always encouraged? Because, God is my refuge and strength. God is with me 24/7, ever-present. God is greater than any circumstance I will ever face, even if it looks like everything is falling apart. Knowing that God has my back allows me to move forward in life without fear. Trusting in God eliminates the threat of fear and fills me with hope, reassurance and peace.
Why am I in awe? Because, who am I that God would love, protect and care for me in all circumstances? Knowing I am loved and cared for by my heavenly Father brings joy to my soul.
Why am I thankful? Because, I have God as my protector and nothing can befall me that will leave me alone and forgotten by God. He is always with me and has this world in His control.
These verses are true cause for encouragement, awe, and thanksgiving. May they lead you towards greater thankfulness for the power and might of our loving God.
Do you know your friend’s favorite verse? It would be one they mention often. One of the verses in today’s passage is my friend’s favorite and I can’t hear it without thinking of her and the truth contained in the verse. Just as the verses say all believers were given to Jesus by God the Father, her love of this verse is a gift to me.
John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” There are so many truths in this passage about Jesus that bring hope and assurance to all who follow Him. I have underlined my friend’s favorite verses. The truth contained in them is amazing. Once we belong to Jesus no one or nothing can take us away from Him. God the Father will not allow it. We are His eternally and can live with that assurance each day of our life. That creates in me a sense of thankfulness, peace, hope and reassurance that God in sovereign, all powerful and is greater than anything or anyone or any circumstance I can ever face.
Let the hope and peace of this truth fill you with thankfulness today. God is worthy of all our praise and thanksgiving.
Knowing that God hears me when I call out to Him gives me great assurance in this troubled world, but knowing I’m forgiven gives me peace and hope. Today’s verse is Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” Scripture tells us that when God forgives He does it completely and puts it out of His sight (Micah 7:19 into the depths of the sea, Isaiah 38:17 behind His back) and will not remember or hold them against us ever again (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)
Why is this important? God is holy and cannot look upon, tolerate or live with sin. Man is born with a sin nature and the only remedy for cleaning us up is to be covered in Christ’s righteous blood through faith in His atoning work on the cross and resurrection. As this verse states, God provided Jesus to atone for our sin for His sake so He could look upon us, and we could have restored fellowship with Holy God. Knowing that God completely forgives me when I seek His forgiveness is so reassuring. Knowing that He forgives and will not hold my sins against me ever again gives me peace of mind. To experience that assurance and peace, I need to regularly confess my sins and seek communion with God through His Word and in prayer. He desires that I know and love Him just as He knows and loves me.
Let the truth of Isaiah 43:25 speak to you today. Let God’s promise of forgiveness give you hope and create in you a greater thankfulness towards your loving, merciful God.
Stand on His promise of forgiveness with thanksgiving in your heart.
As this pandemic has endured longer than I ever imagined possible back in late February and March, I have been in need of words of encouragement. I focused on the book of Philippians as Paul focused on joy in that letter. Other areas where I am in need of encouragement are hope, assurance, fellowship, diligence in prayer, strength from the Word and peace. As I reflect upon each of these, I am stuck by how each will come to me more readily if I develop and mature my attitude towards thankfulness. In future blogs I will delve into these topics as they relate to thankfulness and see what encouragement God has for me and hopefully you from His Word.
Each day during November, I will seek to leave you with a verse or verses about thankfulness and how it brings us all the things we need. Today I will leave you with the verse from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. This is my go to verse this year as I face the difficulties of isolation, fear, helplessness, and even regret. Knowing that whatever may come, God has my back and has enough grace to cover me. That gives me hope and I am thankful for His wonderful care and love. Knowing that God has this and that in my weakness, He can be made strong helps me to develop an attitude of thankfulness for His complete control and sovereignty!
May you be lifted up today and let’s look forward to a November filled with Thankfulness and power, through the name of Jesus.
As a church we have completed reading Deuteronomy and are beginning 1 Corinthians. I am looking forward to our selections as we wade into the streams God has for us in His Word.
1 Corinthians begins with a typical greeting from the writer, the Apostle Paul, to the believers in Corinth. This was a busy city that bustled with commerce of goods, services and ideas. Many of ideas were in direct conflict with the new doctrines presented in the gospel and Paul uses this letter format to instruct, lead and encourage this early church.
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul begins by reminding them of his commission and call to preach the truth about Jesus. He reminds the believers that they are all sanctified in Jesus and also have a calling. As I meditated upon these facts this week, I thought about my own sanctification and call to faith in Jesus. Do I feel sanctified? The dictionary defines sanctification as being made holy, consecrated and set apart by God. That means that God has set me apart and made me holy through the blood of Jesus. Am I acting like one that is set apart in holiness? Do I take time to realize that God has a plan and a purpose for me as a believer? Through my faith in Jesus, I am to be a light for Him in this world, just as the Corinthians were to be lights of hope and truth in their pagan society. Do I feel called? By virtue of the fact that I profess belief in Jesus, I have made the decision to follow Him- that is my calling. Following Jesus can lead in many different ways and each is unique to us. I am reminded of Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God knows just how He will use each one of us. We just need to be open and willing to follow Him wherever and whenever He leads. Are you willing?
Lastly, Paul sincerely wanted the believers to know that he wanted them blessed with grace and peace from God. Do we seek the grace and peace of Jesus towards our fellow believers? Unity of believers was important in Paul’s day and is as essentially important today. We need to stand together for truth, showing grace and peace towards others.
Blessings as we delve into Corinthians together. I have attached some photos of ancient Corinth which was an amazing site to visit.
Philippians 2:14-17 presents joy in several ways. My joy is increased:
godly character leads to joy in my life because of Christ’s work in me.
sharing the gospel and investing in others brings joy.
mutual joy is to be had for both you and me over what Christ is doing and will do in/through us both individually and as a group of believers.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing,15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” Paul is continuing in these verses with the conclusions he made about our lives due to Christ’s power, sovereignty and sacrifice in Philippians 2:5-11. Ours is to be a life filled with integrity and humility as we strive to live together peacefully, in harmony, and shine as a light in the darkness for those who do no know Jesus. The gospel we offer, sometimes at great personal sacrifice, is a light holding promise of eternity for others. Paul says he receives joy as he looks at their lives and his own in light of eternity and work done in Christ’s name. He also claims joy that knowing other believers, working with them in ministry as he sees the work of Christ in his own life and in their lives. This brings mutual joy and gives him cause for rejoicing.
What about you? Do you rejoice in the growth you see in your own life as you strive daily to be more and more like Jesus? Do you feel joy when you share the gospel of Christ with others or take advantage of the opportunities God provides to praise and glorify His name? Do you have joy when you work with others in ministry for both yourself and those you are working with? Paul says all of these circumstances should bring us joy. I pray that you will see each of these in your own life and praise Him for the joy He brings!